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- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

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Causes of Violence

Where there is no emotion,
there is no motive for violence.
- the character Spock in the Star Trek television series

Is the above quote true? What are the real causes of violence?

At first hearing, the Spock quote seems to ring true. A look at the front page of any newspaper would tend to confirm that the world's violent conflicts are caused by emotions run amok: White/Black hatred, Christian/Muslim hatred, Sunni/Shia hatred. A look at individual violence also shows most to have a cause based in emotions: people kill others they are angry with far more often than they commit strong-arm robbery simply out of greed.

On the other hand, non-emotional violence for the purpose of theft has also been around as long as humankind. Think of the Mongols conquering most of Asia  - highly violent, but not emotionally based. Or think of the conquests of Alexander the Great. While it shows up less often in modern life, theft/greed is also a major cause of both personal and institutional violence.

Other perspectives on violence:

The cause of violence ... is self-interest.
- William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

War does not determine who is right -
only who is left.
- Bertrand Russell

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